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The NFL
Peter King
October 10, 1994
The 'Boys Are Back
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October 10, 1994

The Nfl

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Team

Born

Wins in First 2 Years

Comment

Cowboys

1960

4

LB Jack Patera, Seattle's first coach, plucked from Cards

Vikings

1961

5

Hall-of-Fame RB Hugh McElhenny rushed for 570 yards

Falcons

1966

4

No Falcon expansion-draft vet lasted five years

Saints

1967

7

Paul Hornung was a Saint pick but never played

Bucs

1976

2

Lost their first 26 games by average of 17 points

Seahawks

1976

7

Four drafted veterans left on team by fourth year

The 'Boys Are Back

Oh, blessed relief: A football game. A Dallas Cowboy football game, complete with Emmitt, Troy and Michael, to make Texas forget not only about a Monday-night loss to the Lions—an incredibly gigantic and crippling loss!—but also a spate of midweek silliness surrounding the question of whether coach Barry Switzer should be missing Saturday-night team meetings.

Last week, as the Cowboy organization threatened to become the best prime-time soap opera since, well, Dallas, wideout Michael Irvin went home after one practice and watched tapes of the Cowboys' last two games against San Francisco. "You know the only difference between our team last year and this one?" he said the day before the Cowboys' game at Washington on Sunday. "We were having so much fun on the field last year. This year I look at us and we've been tight, like we felt the pressure. We talked about that this week, and the one thing we'll do tomorrow is go out and have fun and play like we used to."

Sure enough, on Sunday Dallas wideout Alvin Harper egged the Skins' even-tempered cornerback Darrell Green into a scuffle. After Redskin running back Reggie Brooks fumbled for the second time, Cowboy safety James Washington pantomimed a man throwing up near the Redskin sideline. "How many times is he gonna cough it up!" Washington yelled, prompting the Skins' bench to scream back at him.

"Some people are quiet winners," Washington said later. "We're not. We've got too many Miami and California players on this team. But that's fine. We're just being us."

And that was plenty on Sunday. Dallas won 34-7, and it wasn't that close. Suddenly it didn't matter that Jimmy Johnson, the former coach, was sniping at the Cowboys from afar or that Switzer and Dallas owner Jerry Jones were sniping back. No, it only mattered that the Cowboys could impose their will on the sputtering Redskins. It only mattered that Dallas could grind out drive after drive after drive.

Leave it to guard Nate Newton, the Cowboys' comic philosopher, to put the team's week in perspective. "You look at the Jews and the Muslims in their religious wars," Newton said, "and you look at Coach Johnson and Coach Switzer. You see there's more than one way to get to heaven, just like there's more than one way to coach a football team."

Say this about Switzer: He is not a man to admit that he is wrong—even when he clearly is. On Sept. 10, Switzer skipped the Cowboy team meetings the night before the home opener with Houston to fly to see his son Doug play quarterback for Missouri Southern. After Dallas lost to Detroit on Monday, Sept. 19, Johnson said Switzer's absence demonstrated a less-than-total commitment to the Cowboys. Switzer shot back that Johnson had been guilty of sacrificing his family to the cause of winning football games. No one asked, but Switzer then volunteered that while he may not have been a model husband, he had been and always would be a devoted father, and he would continue to see his son play football even if it meant skipping Saturday-night meetings. The exchange seemed more suited to Oprah than to SportsCenter, but then that's the Cowboys.

Last Saturday night Switzer again missed the offensive, defensive and special teams meetings—which lasted a total of about 75 minutes—but this time it was to dine with Oklahoma Senator David Boron at Boren's home in Alexandria, Va. Switzer will miss this Saturday night's meetings, too. Young Doug will be playing at home against Missouri Western, and Switzer will be flying to the game aboard Jones's private jet.

Switzer terms his presence at the meetings "irrelevant." Late last Saturday afternoon he calmly explained why. Sitting in his hotel suite with family and friends, watching the end of the Notre Dame rout of Stanford, Switzer said, "There's nothing I can do for them Saturday night. You can only tell your team so much. That win-one-for-the-Gipper stuff is Hollywood. It doesn't work, and I don't do it. I know what Jimmy's Saturday nights were like, and he didn't play a big role in those meetings. I read where [Redskin coach] Norv Turner went to see his son play football on Saturday, and nobody said anything about him."

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